i went back to high school, so you don't have to
i spent the earlier part of my week teaching yoga to a bunch of high school senior girls at my alma mater.
i was fucking stoked to go back to my high school and do my part in inspiring the future little bad ass mamas of our time.
my intention was to make them feel strong and empowered.
my intention was to give them all the answers i sought out when i was their age.
my intention was to give them the reassurance that they are enough, as they are.
my intention was to remind them that their voice matters, and that they have the power to create the life that they want.
my intention was to alleviate any unnecessary pain they experience being a young woman.
in hindsight, i might have had too high of expectations and not enough dose of reality. i am not michelle pfeffier and sacred heart is no gangster's paradise.
so, it should have been no surprise that my perils of wisdom landed as flat as our bodies in savasana. i walked out of each class feeling like my inspirational mantras were just another piece of unsolicited advice from someone who just doesn't get it. i felt just as insecure and confused as i was when i was in their loafers, plaid skirts, and white collared shirts fifteen years prior. i walked out of each class feeling like i failed the next generation of women who are deserving of learning how to love themselves, fully.
but how could this be? surely i've learned something from the past fifteen years of job transitions, friendship gains and losses, relationship disappointments, my greatest accomplishments, proudest moments, sex and the city reruns, and hillary fucking rodham clinton making history. is every bit of wisdom i thought i acquired just a bunch of bull shit? what happened in that room that room that caused such a great disconnect from my intentions and my delivery?
well for starters, there was a lot of giggles. i forgot how much high school girls giggle when they are put in uncomfortable situations (like downward dogs in their school girl uniforms sans opaque tights underneath). and, if you've ever been around a group of giggling girls, and you aren't apart of the laughs, it makes your insecure AF.
second, these are not adult women. my typical women's empowerment speeches that my middle-aged-going-through-divorce-yogis-eat-up-like-the-chocolate-cake-that's-going-to-tip-them-over-their-weekly-weight-watchers-allotted-points love, doesn't work for teens. they don't know what the fuck i'm talking about. they are fighting with this one, crushing on that one, studying for the next big test, and applying to eight hundred schools. though they are consumed with making themselves feel good, their happiness is rooted solely in external people, places, and things. adult women? - we've learned a thing or two about external v. internal happiness that high school girls are blissfully unaware of. so, of course they rolled their eyes and tuned me out. and good on them.
i've been there. i spent my whole high school experience consumed with how i looked (based on other's opinions), how i felt (depending on which friend i was fighting with), how smart i was (contingent on if i was placed in ap english or not - i was not). i didn't realize at the time that my concerns, though they seemed to all be about me, weren't about me at all. and worrying about all the externals is fucking exhausting.
it wasn't until life knocked me down enough times that i learned, for myself, that i, and i alone, am the only person that can make me feel good. that i will ask for a raise. that i will walk away when i am not treated with the same level of love that i give myself. that i will end friendships when they are not reciprocal or feed my soul. that i will seek out books, tv shows, hobbies, political figures that speak to me, and not based on popular opinion.
that's not something i can teach these women and i was grandiose to think that i could in a 45 minute health class. no wonder i didn't meet my own egotistical, yet well meaning, expectations. i can't teach them how to become strong, empowered females with my words - that's a right of passage that they will teach themselves. and who am i to try to rob them from that experience by spewing "answers" based on my own personal experience? furthermore, who am i to think i have it all figured out?
the beauty of the female experience is that we are resilient enough, courageous enough, and bold enough to stumble our way through life determined to find true joy. sure, in high school our joy comes from external pleasures, but eventually over time, we discover one by one, little by little, which of those pleasures feed our souls, and which do not.
so did i have my michelle pfeiffer, gangsters paradise moment? fuck no. they giggled, and stared at me with glazed over eyes, whispered not-sweet-nothings, and passed the f out in savasana. i left feeling just as insecure and confused as i'm sure they do, every period, of every day, of their teenage years. so maybe that's all they needed. to laugh with their girl friends, bond over their shared awkward experience, and take a nap in the middle of the day. it took me fifteen years to realize that's the answer to all my problems too.